Students celebrated AU’s 125th anniversary at the National Museum of African American History and Culture Saturday night.
Two-thousand tickets were distributed through Eventbrite, plus hundreds more through raffles and giveaways, Kris Schneider, student government secretary, said.
“I think Founder’s is a celebration of where we are, where we’ve been, but most importantly, where we see ourselves going,” Schneider said. “This year’s selection is highlighting where we see ourselves going for the next 125 years.”
The event took place following controversy over the decision to host it in such a sensitive space.
Joselyn Hamilton, a sophomore in the School of Communication, was worried about students drinking before the event. However, she was happy to see most students visit the museum respectfully.
“I don’t think I saw many people who were drunk or anything so that made it a little bit easier,” Hamilton said. “I saw a lot of people enjoying themselves, viewing the museum, really respectful and I didn’t expect them to be, so that was kind of pleasant.”
Students danced in the museum’s lobby, and a mix of new and throwback hits kept the dance floor packed throughout the evening. Barbeque was served along with macaroni and cheese balls, which were popular with students.
All levels of the museum were open to students to explore as well.
For Hamilton, the experience was deeply emotional on the bottom floor, which showed the brutal journey of African-American history, including slavery, violence, segregation and pain. It was annoying to see some people giggling and playing around, Hamilton said.
“I understand we’re here to celebrate Founder’s, but you have to take into consideration the location of where we are and the gravity behind it,” Hamilton said.
Christina Fluharty, a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs, didn’t attend because she felt it would be offensive to the black community.
“I totally disagree with the idea of a party being held there,” Fluharty said. “It should be more of a place to respect, reflect and spend time thinking about what happened in African-American history.”
Vyette Tiya, a junior in the School of International Service, was aware of the controversy surrounding the event, but said that she was grateful for the opportunity to attend.
“I’m here because every chance to come to this museum is worthwhile,” Tiya said. “It’s a great time to be here with people you’re close with and those who you love. It makes the experience all the better.”
Other students thought having the ball at the museum was a great opportunity for students to educate themselves on African-American history, said Caroline Mayer, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“It conveys a great message about unity, acceptance and understanding,” Mayer said.
Although Hamilton said student government attempted to make the ball an educational event, she said she wished there was more emphasis on decorum and explaining the reasoning behind the location choice.
“They should have framed it in a way to make sure that everyone went in with this mindset,” Hamilton said. “Be respectful. The purpose of us picking this location is to restore some of the balance between of the racial issues on campus, but they didn’t really do that.”